Thursday, February 05, 2015

Way to Stake Out a Position, Lads

Measles, or rubeola if you're pedantic, is not the kind of thing you want to get. It's a nasty, easily communicable and contagious virus that killed - yes, killed - 96,000 people worldwide in 2013.

It killed about 545,000 people worldwide in 1990, and still flares up from time to time.

There's a vaccine for measles (known as MMR) that is extremely effective at combating the virus. Once enough people in a given area get the shot, the population develops what's known as herd immunity - outbreaks are small, limited in duration, and result in few deaths with proper care.

(Yes, I'm oversimplifying this, but I'll get to the point.)

There are populations in certain countries that have what's called low vaccine coverage, and there you get endemic measles, meaning that it's entrenched. There are also individuals who, out of fear or rank ignorance, don't get vaccinated or refuse to get their kids vaccinated. Much of their argument against vaccination is based on a discredited study in the British medical journal The Lancet, which was revealed to be based on bad data and faulty methodology. Still people cling to it as one of Skinner's monkeys clung to the terrycloth 'mother,' with very depressingly predictable results.

A Texas megachurch decided to stop vaccinating, and there was a large outbreak of measles. Whooping cough, another really nasty disease, has also broken out despite there being a very effective shot for it, and unless you've been hiding in a doomsday bunker for the past few months you will have heard about the measles outbreak traced to a bunch of unvaccinated kids who visited Disneyland.

So, when appealed to, you would think that our stalwart politicians would chide these parents for being dumb and insensitive to their children's need to avoid these diseases, right?


Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, said that parents should have a right to choose whether or not their kids get their shots. He immediately backed away from the position, which basically reinforced a similar stand against common sense he took back in 2009.

Rand Paul, Senator of Kentucky, basically parroted the discredited Lancet study.

Thom Tillis, Senator of North Carolina, went a step further in a recent conference by saying that it might be nice if restaurants could 'opt out' of requiring their employees to wash their hands after using the restroom. Isn't that nice?

Mo Brooks, Representative of Alabama, has chosen to stake out a position that should be all too familiar to certain people: He's decided to find a scapegoat for the recent Disneyland outbreak. He's an anti-immigrant hawk, so you get three guesses who he's decided to finger. No prize for guessing right.

Now, coming as this does after staking out anti-science positions on such things as evolution, it really shouldn't be surprising. It will become tragic if the kids or adults who contract measles because of stupid or ignorant actions get secondary infections and die. If any do die, there'll be a massive screech of "Why didn't the Government tell us to get our kids vaccinated?"

And so it goes.


Post a Comment

<< Home